Wednesday, June 04, 2008

7 day work week -- How to rip a cassette to cd

I'm in my second year at my Uni and I figure it's a good policy to go along with whatever my boss wants and so for the rest of the month I have a 7 day work week! My plan is to continue at this uni for one more year -- possibly longer depending on numerous things.

The textbook we are using for one of the extra classes I have on the weekend threw me for a surprise because -- the audio that comes with the text is on CASSETTE!

Of all the ridiculous things! I'm always hearing about how technologically advance Korea is but in practise it doesn't seem to live up to this reputation. Almost nobody uses Mozilla Firefox here, Microsoft's Internet Explorer with all of it's silly flaws is king here and most of the textbooks on sale come on cassette.

The particular cassette that I have for the class audio of this text actually thinks it's a cd. At the end of cassette 1 side b it says:

"End of CD 1"

So, I"m wondering if there isn't some sort of insane anti-piracy technique of recording cds onto cassette to give those pirates a wedgie from hell.

At any rate, I don't usually like to follow a textbook from front to back as it can be much more fortuitous to just go by a unit that fits with a theme or an important topic of the day so I am in the process of ripping the cassette to cd.

How to Rip a Cassette to CD
1. Download and install Audacity (portable version available)
2. Download Lame and unzip into the Audacity program folder or someplace, anyplace, that you can easily find (but, not your desktop!).
3. Buy an audio cable (not sure what it's called precisely but it is a simple length of wire with a plug that will fit into the microphone jack on your computer and also into the headphone jack of the cassette player.
4. Connect the headphone jack on your cassette player and the microphone jack on your computer with the audio cable.
5. Open Audacity and click on the red 'record' button. Change the input audio to "Wave Out Mix" (I think the default is usually "microphone"). Don't worry about recording precisely at the start of the recordings you will want a good length of 'silence' for your noise reduction process later on!!!
6. Hit the play button on the cassette.
7. Leave the computer alone while Audacity records the cassette (otherwise you'll get all sorts of annoying noises from the clicking and error messages you get in the other programs). Alternatively you could set the audio-in to come from the microphone jack directly but I've found that this usually results in a great deal of background noise, perhaps it is just a failing of my computer set-up.
8. Hit "File", "Save project as". Choose a good name like cassette 1 side a or the like. The file will be very large if you have recorded 30 minutes or more so be patient and give Audacity the time it needs to save all the sound information.
9. Give a good listen to the first few minutes of your recording. Make sure it sounds reasonably good, after all you will be listening to it over and over again, especially if it is for language study.
10. Noise reduction: If you find that there is quite a lot of static background noise, I almost always get this on my recordings, use Audacity's "effects" . . . "noise reduction" feature. First select a good 5 seconds or so of 'silence' if there really is noise on the recording you will hear the static here and nothing else. Then chose "Effect" . . . "Noise Removal". Click on the "Get Noise Profile" button. Then select the entire recording and chose "Effect" . . . "Noise Removal" again. Use the preview button to remove just the right amount of noise without making the recording sound too tinny.
11. "File", "Export selection as mp3" or "Export project as mp3". You may want to make proofs of each track in this case you could select the track on your recording, copy and paste it into a new Audacity window which you then save as a project named for that track into a proofs folder. You need to be a bit meticulous about file names and such like as Audacity projects are sort of bookmarks that lead to folders crammed full of the wave files that make them up.
11. You might get a pop-up window here asking you where to find the Lame driver "lame_enc.dll" (you need this in order to export to mp3 format). Just navigate to your previously unzipped Lame folder (step 2 above) and choose a good name for your track (like "02_airplanes.mp3" or the like).
12. Relax into the slow work of sorting the tracks out from one another, about 3 hours of work later (depending on how wonderful you want it to sound) you are done. I usually chop out the identification information as for language learning you want to hear the track multiple times but you don't particularly want to hear:

"Unit 1, Conversation 1.02, Airplanes, Conversation B"

Each and everytime you replay the track. Naturally you have to be very careful about how you name the mp3s and your proof files to keep from getting lost and losing valuable information.

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